Harvest Time

320px-Red_River_Special_threshing_machineIn this letter Lucy talks about the excitement of harvest time when many hired men and neighbors came to the farm to help with threshing. My grandmother’s stories held similar excitement, but she tended to focus on her job as the adult farm wife. The one who had to feed twenty or thirty hungry men four meals per day. Yes, four. Lunch was early, and there’s mid afternoon treat, too. This was in the dog days of late August. Hot. Then let’s imagine baking a dozen loaves of bread in the kitchen, on a coal or wood stove. Then boiling up some coffee in the stove top percolator. How many gallons can a crew drink? Several.

Those times must have been pretty exciting, especially compared to the quiet loneliness of the deep winter.

Lucy writes:

To a ten year old nothing could be as exciting as harvest time.The Colwells shared a thresher, in return they helped each other with hauling grain and pitching bundles.

The most exciting time was when they were at our house. People came to help in the kitchen of course bringing the children with them. As I look back it seems to me, 20 men to cook for should have been enough for mother to do, but it was happy time for us.

We’d ride to town with the grain tanks (horse drawn) and each time we’d get a penny for a jaw breaker or something sweet.

We also had our chores – picking peas or beans – digging potatoes. Mine was mixing [horseradish] + Pat + I would have to kill chickens (yuk). He’d hold the feet. I’d cut their heads off. Then mom would scald them so the feather would come off. Then I’d cut them up, take them to the well and pump cold water on them.

When we had so many horses to water, we had to pump and pump. Loly was so short her feet would be lifted right off the ground by the pump handle. Harvesting was really fun!

Harvest Time

Harvest Time

Photo by Robert Ashworth [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons